sunny.png
Monday September 16th, 2019 4:44PM

Startup event in Finland puts spotlight on European tech

By The Associated Press
Related Articles
  Contact Editor

HELSINKI (AP) — One of Europe's largest startup events opened Thursday in Finland, with 2,600 companies and 1,500 investors networking and negotiating funding, as the region looks to ramp up an industry that has long struggled to compete with the tech giants of the U.S.

The two-day Slush conference in Helsinki brought in star power to promote itself, including former U.S. Vice President Al Gore to kick off the event as well as Britain's Prince William.

The location of Finland is symbolic for a national and regional technology industry that has been trying to renew itself from older tech — the once-dominant handsets of Nokia Corp. — into newer ventures.

Finland has managed over the past five years to build a flourishing entrepreneurial scene, evident in the rise of gaming heavyweights Supercell — the maker of Clash of Titans among others — and the Angry Birds developer Rovio.

The home-grown startups in Finland are now expanding from conventional information technology to new lucrative fields like education, health, virtual reality and artificial intelligence.

Yet as successful as some of these companies can be, they more often than not get bought up by bigger U.S. or Asian companies, leaving Europe without a single software-based technology company to rival the likes of Google or Amazon. Supercell, for example, sold a majority of its shares to Japanese companies GungHo and Softbank in 2013 and then China's Tencent in 2016.

Venture capital firm Index Partners, one of Europe's largest technology investors based in London and San Francisco, is convinced Europe will get its own star companies in the not-so-distant future.

"It's just a matter of time," said spokesman Vojtech Horna from Index's London office. He noted Supercell's market valued recently reached $10 billion. "There will be more companies like that. The more people see examples like that, the more you see people taking it for the long-term and building these businesses in Europe."

He mentioned online fashion platform Farfetch, lending marketplace Funding Circle and music streaming service Spotify as examples of European startups that have grown to become leaders in their respective fields.

From its beginning in 2008 as a student-driven event with 300 visitors, Slush has grown to become a major international showcase for startups, with about 20,000 visitors expected this year.

In addition, dozens of side events take place around Helsinki for investors, media and entrepreneurs, and organizers have expanded Slush to Asia with similar events staged in Shanghai, Singapore and Tokyo.

This year's overall theme is "how growth companies can solve the world's biggest problems" through technology.

Slush first-timer Eric Gundersen, CEO of U.S. custom online map developer Mapbox Inc., said he found the European startup scene intriguing, with a large talent pool.

"Right now the educational system in Europe is better prepared to service that (startup) market. That's why we're coming over here," Gundersen said. He noted, however, that funding is more difficult in Europe, where venture capital investors are more conservative than their Asian and U.S. counterparts.

His San Francisco-based company received $164 million investment led by Japanese investor Softbank in October, and Gundersen said Thursday it would open a Helsinki office soon and another in Minsk, Belarus, in the near future.

Slush estimates that funding for startups in Finland — a Nordic country of merely 5.5 million people — have more than tripled from 2011 to some 383 million euros ($454 million) last year.

"Slush has put Helsinki on the map," said director Reidar Wasenius of the Finnish Business Angels Network, whose members invested 53 million euros in about 300 startups in 2016. "It has brought not only visibility but also credibility with direct benefits to investors and Finnish startups."

He said Nokia, which sold its mobile phone division to Microsoft Corp. in 2014 and deals now with telecom networks, had a key role driving entrepreneurship in Finland.

"Because of Nokia we have people who are used to doing business in the international technology sector," Wasenius said. "The skills and money created by Nokia into Finland is the basis of the current boom."

Apart from Gore and Prince William, other European royalty — Prince Daniel of Sweden and Prince Constantijn of the Netherlands — were due to visit. And a group of Nordic startups from the Slush venue in Helsinki range the Nasdaq stock market's opening bell in New York remotely.

  • Associated Categories: Associated Press (AP), AP Business, AP Business - Careers, AP Business - Financial Markets, AP Business - Industries, AP Business - Financial Services, AP Technology News
© Copyright 2019 AccessWDUN.com
All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed without permission.
Startup event in Finland puts spotlight on European tech
One of Europe's largest startup events is opening in Finland, with 2,600 companies and 1,500 investors networking and negotiating funding, as the region looks to ramp up an industry that has struggled to compete with the U.S. tech giants
7:23AM ( 9 minutes ago )
Sterling blossoming into Man City's man for the big occasion
Raheem Sterling is having the best season of his career and is proving to be Manchester City's big game-changer in its bid for the Premier Legaue title
7:21AM ( 10 minutes ago )
10 Things to Know for Today
Among 10 Things to Know: What North Korean photos say about new ballistic missile; NBC's Matt Lauer becomes biggest name toppled by misconduct allegations; AP source: Jared Kushner questioned by Mueller's team about Michael Flynn
6:50AM ( 41 minutes ago )
Associated Press (AP)
Lauer becomes biggest name toppled by misconduct allegations
Matt Lauer's firing as host of NBC's 'Today' makes him the biggest media figure brought down by sexual misconduct allegations since Bill O'Reilly and Roger Ailes lost their lofty positions at Fox News Channel
6:07AM ( 1 hour ago )
Eurozone unemployment drops further on buoyant recovery
Official figures show that the unemployment rate in the 19-country eurozone has fallen to its lowest level since January 2009, further evidence that the buoyant economic recovery across the region is being felt in most corners of the labor market
5:58AM ( 1 hour ago )
OPEC poised to extend oil production cuts to support prices
Key OPEC oil ministers express preference for extending crude output cuts until the end of next year, strengthening expectations that the oil cartel will decide to continue pumping less oil for more dollars
5:45AM ( 1 hour ago )
AP Business
The Latest: Natalie Morales 'shocked' by Matt Lauer firing
The Latest: Former 'Today' co-host Natalie Morales expresses shock at Matt Lauer's firing over sexual misconduct allegations
5:58PM ( 13 hours ago )
NBC fires Matt Lauer over 'inappropriate sexual behavior'
Matt Lauer's firing for what NBC says was "inappropriate sexual behavior" with a colleague has stunned viewers and rocked the network
4:05PM ( 15 hours ago )
The Latest: Deborah Norville expresses shock at Lauer firing
The Latest: Former 'Today' host Deborah Norville expresses shock at Matt Lauer's firing over sexual misconduct allegations
1:31PM ( 18 hours ago )
AP Business - Careers
What North Korean photos say about new ballistic missile
A close look at what North Korean photos say about Kim Jong Un's new ballistic missile
12:32AM ( 7 hours ago )
Uber sinks deeper into trade-secret theft allegations
Uber struggles to explain why it reached $7.5 million settlement on accusations of trade-secret theft that management considered to be an empty threat
7:33PM ( 11 hours ago )
Uber further embroiled in trade-secret theft allegations
Uber struggles to explain why it reached $7.5 million settlement on accusations of trade-secret theft that management considered to be an empty threat
6:35PM ( 12 hours ago )
AP Technology News
10 Things to Know for Today
Among 10 Things to Know: What North Korean photos say about new ballistic missile; NBC's Matt Lauer becomes biggest name toppled by misconduct allegations; AP source: Jared Kushner questioned by Mueller's team about Michael Flynn
6:50AM ( 41 minutes ago )
London mayor urges UK's May to cancel Trump state visit
The mayor of London has added his voice to calls for President Donald Trump's state visit to Britain to be canceled over his retweets of a British far-right group
6:47AM ( 45 minutes ago )
The Latest: Bosnian Croats honor Slobodan Praljak
Hundreds of Bosnian Croats have been lighting candles in public squares in cities around the country in honor of Slobodan Praljak who drank poison moments after a U.N judge confirmed his 20-year war crimes sentence, and later died
6:31AM ( 1 hour ago )
Eurozone recovery fueling jobs but wages and prices lag
Official figures show that the unemployment rate in the 19-country eurozone has fallen to its lowest level since January 2009, further evidence that the buoyant economic recovery across the region is being felt in most corners of the labor market
6:27AM ( 1 hour ago )
Trump lashes out at wrong Theresa May on Twitter
President Donald Trump initially responded to British Prime Minister Theresa May's criticism of his retweeting inflammatory anti-Muslim videos from a fringe British political group by directing his message to the wrong Theresa May
6:20AM ( 1 hour ago )